Benny’s Southern Fried Chicken Parmesan

Chef Vivian Howard (A Chef’s Life) shares her recipe for an Italian-Southern fusion dish that has the cheese of Chicken Parmesan with the heat of Southern-style fried chicken! Learn to make this tasty dish at home.

Benny’s Southern Fried Chicken Parmesan
Serves 4


For the hot honey:
1 head garlic
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup calabrian chilies packed in oil (or alternate chili variety), strained and stems removed
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup honey

For the pickled peppers:
1/2 cup assorted sweet peppers, thinly sliced
1 cup champagne vinegar or sherry vinegar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
2 bay leaves

For the fried chicken:
1 cup full-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, grated
Zest of 1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
4 whole boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3/4 cup fine ground cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

For serving:
8 sage leaves
1 cup Straciatella or good quality ricotta
1/2 cup parmigiana reggiana, grated


1. Make the hot honey: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Leave the head of garlic intact while removing the papery outer layers. Trim off 1/4 inch off the top of the garlic head to expose cloves. Place the head of garlic in aluminum foil and raise the edges upward leaving the top open, like a bowl. Drizzle oil over top of garlic and seal foil. Roast in oven until tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven let cool.

2. Once garlic is cool enough to handle, press the bottom of the cloves to push them out of their paper. In the base of a blender, add roasted garlic, lemon zest, chilies, and salt. Blend until smooth. In a medium bowl, add garlic paste and fold in honey. Set aside.

3. Make the pickled peppers: Place peppers in a medium bowl or heatproof jar. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add vinegar, salt, sugar, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, and stir until sugar and salt dissolves. Carefully pour over peppers. Set aside.

4. Make the fried chicken: In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, mustard, garlic, lemon zest, and black pepper. Submerge chicken in buttermilk mixture and place in refrigerator to marinate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

5. In a baking dish, combine cornmeal, flour, and salt. Using tongs, remove chicken from buttermilk and coat in the seasoned flour. Shake off excess flour and transfer to a plate.

6. Heat a large cast iron pan filled with 1-inch peanut oil over medium-high to 375 degrees. Place the chicken in oil and fry until golden, about 7 to 8 minutes. Using tongs, carefully lip and fry 6 more minutes. Rest on a cooling rack.

7. In the same oil, drop sage leaves and fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and rest on paper towels.

8. To serve, spoon a healthy dollop of Straciatella onto a plate. Top with fried chicken, drizzle with hot honey and grated parmiggiano. Garnish with pickled peppers and crispy sage.

Get more delicious recipes by heading to Pickler & Ben’s Recipe Archive!